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Tuesday, 20 August 2019 14:00

To Russia with love (of piano): Hutchinsons perform in St. Petersburg concert

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John Patrick Hutchinson performs in the International Piano in the Palace Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. John Patrick Hutchinson performs in the International Piano in the Palace Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. Contributed photos

ROCKINGHAM — Brothers John Patrick and Alexander Hutchinson recently returned from St. Petersburg, Russia, where they participated in the International Piano in the Palace Festival, hosted by Russian concert pianist Alexander Yakovlev.

The brothers, sons of John and Sharon Hutchinson, joined 48 other young musicians from the United States and Europe.

“This is a wonderful event,” said Dr. Reid Smith, who accompanied the American students to the festival. “Young musicians have the opportunity to gather with others who share their love of music. They are able to study classical piano with world-famous pianists, and perform the pieces they prepared during the year.” 

Smith is a native of Rockingham and a Steinway Piano Teacher of the Year Award recipient. He resides in Dellwood, Minnesota, where he maintains an active piano school program.

The Hutchinsons studied piano at John Tyson’s piano studio, formerly located in Rockingham, for several years, and began preparations for the festival in January 2019. Additionally, this summer, Valerie Cox of Southern Pines, and Smith helped to prepare the boys for the festival. This preparation included many hours of lessons and practicing at home, as well as attending masterclasses to prepare performing their pieces in front of others and with an orchestra.

The St. Petersburg Piano in the Palace Festival included two main components, lessons and performance/competition.

Alexander Hutchinson plays piano in the Marble Palace.


Once the festival began, students were assigned private lessons with the festival faculty using their chosen repertoire. They were also assigned practice time slots for the remainder of the lesson day. The students then performed a series of concerts and auditions mid-week.

The festival concluded with a performance in the St. Petersburg Marble Palace, a venue that is normally closed to the public. While attending the festival, the boys gave interviews to the Russian press crew covering the festival about the importance of music in their lives and the hard work required to prepare for the festival. When asked if they would attend other piano festivals, the answer was a definite “Yes!”

The boys will be performing selections of their festival repertoire at a concert on Oct. 6 in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in Rockingham. A reception will follow the concert in the Fellowship Hall.

Alexander Yakovlev, left, with Dr. Reid Smith, right.  And, John Patrick and Alex Hutchinson.


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